Tag Archives: holidays

… and back!

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… or well… sorta… ;).

With over 300 unread blog posts in my Reader, my articles still unfinished, the dishes still waiting to be done (as is the laundry and the ironing) and the experiments still failing, but with 2 handed in grant applications (which I don’t even know I want to get accepted) and still not quite back on my game after a frankly quite tiring outing to Iceland.

And you know what I was thinking when I conjured up the “Add new post” tab?

I have no effing clue what I’m supposed to write about! :D

There you have it, over 2 weeks complete absence in the blogosphere and I got a writer’s block – you’d think I’d have something to say, at least… . Makes one happy they didn’t pursue that ‘I wanna be a writer’-dream, doesn’t it ;).

But I digress…

Iceland! Where anything over a foot tall is called ‘a tree’ and getting lost in the forest is therefore a seldom event – should it occur: just put the cork on the bottle and get up. Where geysers kill you with their foul smell before they boil you, and the tap water is so rich in sulfur your silver rings will turn gold if you dare stay in the bath for more than 5 minutes (true story. only i was in it for over 30 minutes.). Ah yes, Iceland… a beautiful country indeed.

To ease my coming back in the blogosphere (I can’t really be expected to splash 500+ words right at you, can I?), and because pics say more than a 1000 words (or so I heard), here’s some photographic evidence of my trip. Not that these pics were not taken by me and you are therefore not allowed to copy, reproduce and/or alter them in any way.

Do you have the expression "to sell air"? Yes, well, somebody needs to tell the Icelandics it's an expression...


The Strokkur geyser, right before the surface tension breaks. (we were a bunch of scientists on a trip. for us this is cool.)


The plains of Þingvellir, at the Mid-Atlantic ridge, where the oldest parliament of the world (930 AD) used to assemble.


Remember Eyafjallajökull? This is a branch of its gletsjer.


The walking path running behind gives you some idea of the dimensions. Quite impressive.


Sun setting over Iceland's black beaches...


Reynisdrangar rocks - these are trolls turned to stone when they were too late to get to the cave before sunrise - although scientists claim they are basalt uprisings. What do they know, right?


The blue lagoon - more money than it's worth, but you kinda need to have been in an outdoor 38ºC swimming pool while it's snowing at one point in your life.

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So, did everybody survive the holidays?

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I know I did! Though they’re not really over yet, so I guess I should hold wood and not scream too loud ;).

But the real, BIG holidays are over – and it was all good. After my hi-tech science Christmas Eve, I made it home, though “are you kidding me?” flashed through my mind when the pilot announced the following 10 minutes after boarding was complete.

Dear passengers, we are currently unable to refill the fuel tank of the airplane. We have tried two tank trucks so far, but there seems to be a problem. We are trying to find out whether the problem is the tank trucks or the plane, we are working on it and will keep you posted.

After everything that could’ve gone wrong (no trains, delayed trains, hand luggage too big/heavy (it really was – fortunately for me, they didn’t check), delayed flights, cancelled flights), you can’t fill up the tank?? But they solved it, we left, I came home to a freshly-made quiche (I really don’t get what the big fuss over in-laws is, mine are just great), we played games, I slept, we went to my parents’, confused hell out of my one grandmother who met T for the first time and doesn’t seem to get that she is my girlfriend and not my girl friend (I refuse to have that talk with her and my mum has just passed the stage of being able to pronounce Ts name, no help there), celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends and didn’t even get out of the couch for the countdown (ooooooooooold…), celebrated New Years’ at both grandmas and my parents, got tired of repeating the same stuff about Sweden over and over again, got tired of talking about baby-stuff, went to a birthday party, got crazy from all the small kids running around there (really, I don’t know where my nesting syndrome comes from), had a misunderstanding with T about shopping together leaving me home alone all day, … . So basically, nothing particularly blog-worthy happened ;).
Next up: shopping with my sis, meeting with some friends, celebrating Ts birthday, count down the days and get my ass back to Sweden. 4 days of holidays left … .

Städdag (aka cleaning day)

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Today was “städdag” at work, aka cleaning day. Apparently, next week we will have inspection and everything should be clean and tidy which, in a biochemistry lab, isn’t exactly… easy.

Many people have this idea about scientists and their lab where it is always dirty, with dust piling up on old equipment, mold growing in the fridges, bacterial cultures and reagents which have been standing there for years, desks piling with articles and grant applications, … .

I will tell you this: it is all true.

My working space... it only looks this nice after cleaning day.

I have worked in 4 labs until now, and it has been the same everywhere I went. In theory everything is perfectly organized, but reality shows a different picture … . I don’t know where this stems from: whether we are just so occupied with our work we don’t have time to clean, whether we are immune for dirt and just ignore it, or whether it is simply because we have to clean our own desks. The thing is: in most companies there are cleaning ladies/gentlemen who take care of the hygienic situation at work and who clean the desks etc. In a lab, however, that is not possible. You cannot simply throw everything out in the sink or the bin, go over it with a sponge and that’s that – there’s some toxic substances around, which should be disposed of properly, and other substances which are not exactly toxic, but could cause trouble when mixed. Basically, you need a masters degree to be able to clean up a lab. In others words: we need to do it ourselves. And thus, every so often, a day is organized on which everybody puts on their lab coats, disposes of molded cultures, old buffers, and cleans up a drawer or two (the rest is for next time).

We had to be in the lab at 9. I woke up at 9.45. I’ve always been great at making good impressions on crucial days. So, to make up for my being late, I took on the kitchen. And whoever thinks that was the easiest part in the lab, think again. We found cereals that expired in 2002 (I must have been in kindergarten when those where bought), and some Tupperware boxes have been thrown directly in the bin: there is no way they could have been sanitized ever again, and I’m pretty sure inhalation of the spores of whatever was inside would have had us landed in hospital had we dared to open them.

Anyway, we survived (and got free pizza from the department for lunch!), but I just hope the inspection here is not half as strict as it was back in Ghent, cause I don’t think we would pass… .

But best of all – tonight I finally managed to ask my professor about Christmas holidays: I was planning on taking the last week of December and come back January 3rd because he didn’t seem too happy on me taking a week of to be with T last time, and I didn’t want to piss him off… but he suggested himself I’d take the first week of January also because, well, nobody would be in the lab anyway. So I’ll actually have TWO WEEKS of Christmas holidays! Yey for me!